Thursday, 24 May 2012

Watch final #PlanetEarthLive from Dr Strangelove's Gallery & come home to #Springwatch

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Final episode of Planet Earth Live, 8pm BBC One 

Live from Dr Strangelove's Gallery

I've just been sitting in the Planet Earth Live gallery in Bristol watching the rehearsals for tonights live show. It's a hive of activity where all the feeds from the crews around the world are shown on a wall of screens dripping with hundreds of cables and wires. You would expect to find Dr Strangelove sitting in front but instead you find the director James Morgan, who is responsible for which feed gets shown on your TV. He's joined by the producers who oversee the editorial and story lines, and a dozen or so other people with critical jobs to do. Each day as the feeds go live you can imagine a scene of calm relief like that of mission control in 1969 as Apollo 11 landed.

Around the world are mini-hubs, like the one my fiancee sits in in Minnesotta - she is responsible for timings. Every second is counted for each individual piece. She speaks directly into the ear-pieces of the presenters so that they can keep slick and to time - imagine trying to present to millions of people whilst someone else is speaking in your ear! When seconds are added on to a piece it has repercussions throughout the whole film, making it a game of maths that would cause my head to explode.

It looks like tonights show is going to be as powerful and revealing as every other episode of this global series. Richard Hammond and Julia Bradbury will present the final updates from the extraordinary cast of animals including Sybil the black bear cub in Minnesota, Moja the young Lion in the Masai Mara, Maya the elephant calf and gremlin the Macaque in Sri Lanka.

While I've loved the show I'll be pleased to get my fiancee Donna back who's been out in Minnesota for the past month. Nice work darling!

If you haven't voted for the cutest animal yet you can still vote here.

Here's the mini-hub in the Masai Mara...

The gallery on the Masai Mara sending its video feeds back to the master gallery in Bristol (photo)

Some of the animal stars...

 Sybil the black bear cub (Source: BBC Planet Earth Live Facebook)

Moja the lion cub (Source: BBC Planet Earth Live Facebook)

Gremlin the Toque Macaque in Sri Lanka (Photo: BBC Planet Earth Live)

Come home to Springwatch 2012

After an action packed adventure around the world its always nice to return home, put your feet up with a nice cup of tea, and catch up with friends. Don't fret because on Monday 28th May, Chris, Martin and Micheala will be handed the olympic torch of live wildlife TV which they'll run with for three weeks, bringing us the best of british in Springwatch and Springwatch Unsprung on BBC2.

Presenters of Springwatch Chris Packham, Micheala Strachan and Martin Hughes-Games (BBC)

The first show will be broadcasting live form a garden in Porters Bar with 12 adorable fox cubs. We'll be introduced to a family of kingfishers, filmed by Charlie Hamilton James. As their story evolves, cameras delicately placed within their nest reveal incredible new behaviours, but even Charlie couldn't have imagined the drama that plays out, as heavy rains cause the river the flood, threatening the entire kingfisher family.

Urban peregrines are an increasingly common sight in the UK’s cities, and for the first time, nests have been rigged with specialist cameras to see how they’ve adapted to urban life. There's been some surprising results – including one of last year’s chicks muscling in to look after this year’s brood. Will his inexperience lead to disaster?

In other firsts for the series, Springwatch reveals the dark dramas that play out in every rabbit warren across the UK, the science of the adorably cute dormouse, the truth behind the mad march hare, moles filmed underground and the fascinating mating behaviour of predatory pike.

We may not have lions and elephants but we certainly have amazing stories right on our Great British doorsteps. 


The team have already set up webcams on a number of nests, including a stunning nuthatch family (another first for Springwatch), the indispensable blue tit, some pied flycatchers and a delightful little wren’s nest. Between 5 and 10pm each night the team will host a conversation, interweaving live tweets, comments, Facebook posts and emails. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

My fiancee with Lynn Rogers and a cute black bear! #PlanetEarthLive @bearstudy

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My fiancee Donna has just met a charming black bear yearling whilst working on BBC Planet Earth Live in Minnesota. She sent me these fantastic photographs and said that I could share them with you.

She didn't just stumble across the bear whilst strolling on her own through the woods, she was with black bear scientist Dr Lynn Rogers of who has been working with the Planet Earth Live team. He has been studying bears for over 40 years in Minnesota and in that time has formed trusting relationships with dozens of wild bears, including mothers with cubs. He regularly spends entire days walking and resting with them, detailing their activities, diet, ecology and social organisation, and by doing so has provided much of the scientific information that is now known about this charismatic mammal. 

Lynn was the star of the BBC Natural World film Bear Walker of the North Woods and in 2009/10 worked with cameraman Gordon Buchanan to document a family of black bears in The Bear Family and Me.

You can see a clip from Planet Earth Live featuring Lynn, at the end of this post. 

Planet Earth Live returns to BBC One Weds May 16th, 7:30pm

 Black bear yearling (Photo: Donna Dixon)

  Black bear yearling and Dr Lynn Rogers (Photo: Donna Dixon)

  Black bear yearling (Photo: Donna Dixon)

  Black bear yearling (Photo: Donna Dixon)

  Black bear yearling (Photo: Donna Dixon)

 Black bear yearling (Photo: Donna Dixon)


Thursday, 10 May 2012

2 cute reasons why #PlanetEarthLive is a not to be missed global event!

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8pm, BBC One in the UK (and around the world to 140 countries). Watch the first two episodes on BBC iPlayer.

If you haven't watched it yet then here are two reasons why 'Planet Earth Live' is a not to be missed global TV event. Meet Gremlin the macaque in Sri Lanka, and the black bear cubs in Minnesota - play the clips below.

Vote below for which animal you think is the cutest Planet Earth Live baby (to help you decide here's some cute photos of the baby animals.

Currently bears have 78% of the vote with poor little Gremlin the macaque lingering in 2nd place at 9%.

Click to vote and reveal the results so far

 Meet Gremlin the Macaque, Sri Lanka

Meet the Black Bear Cubs, Minnesota, USA

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Fluffy Fudge the Fox - Grasswatch Live! #FoxesLive #Springwatch #PlanetEarthLive

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Whilst my fiancĂ©e Donna is in Minnesota with the Bear crew for BBC 'Planet Earth Live', I'm laying in the mud and grass to get close to my foxes. I think I might need to get the lawnmower out before she comes home...

After watching the cute baby animals, from black bear cubs to meerkat pups, in BBC 'Planet Earth Live' tomorrow night, don't forget to bring it all home and tune into the next episodes of FoxesLive on Channel 4 on 7-8-9th May. Visit the website to put your fox on the map and help Mark Evans and his team of experts paint a picture of the British fox.

I'm fortunate to be able to travel and encounter exotic wildlife but if Springwatch has shown us anything it is that wildlife can be just as exciting on your own doorstep. Like a trusty friend Springwatch will return on 28 May 2012. Live from Ynys-hir RSPB reserve in Wales it will be presented by Chris Packham, Martin Hughes-Games and Michaela Strachan.

Now, back to Grasswatch Live...
I haven't photographed this fox before. He's a handsome looking fella. I think 'Fudge' is a fitting name.

Meet the rest of my fox gang and see 'Fox vs Badger' here.
More of my photos on Flickr.

Hiding amongst the grass

Maybe I should trim these monster brambles too!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Vote for the cutest baby animal? BBC #PlanetEarthLive & NatGeo #24/7Wild

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Which of these baby animals is cutest?
Click to vote and reveal the results so far

*Cute update 6th May: After a rapid surge in popularity for Gremlin the Toque Macaque, it wasn't long before the Black Bear cub found his feet and shot into the lead to take an astonishing 66% of the votes. Followed by Toque Macaque with 14%, Elephant with 6%. I wonder if this will change when the show goes live! 

See these and more on BBC Planet Earth Live - Broadcast around the world to 140 countries
('24/7 Wild' on National Geographic Wild in the USA)

Visit the BBC Programme Page for more information, photo's and videos

Meerkat (Photo: BBC)

Black Bear (Photo: Dr Lynn Rogers)

Toque Macaque (Photo: BBC Planet Earth Live)

Sea Otter (Photo: Randy Wilder)

Lion Cub (Photo: Anup Shah/BBC NHU Library)

Elephant (Photo: @PlanetEarthLive)

Grey Whale (not Julia Bradbury) (Photo: BBC Planet Earth Live)

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Fox vs Badger - meet Fangs & the gang - drama in my garden #FoxesLive

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The fox ignites passions like no other predator. Vilified as vermin by some and admired for its pluckiness by others, the fox divides public opinion. Now Channel 4 have launched a nationwide campaign to investigate Britain’s most controversial carnivore. Mark Evans aims to find out if our cities are being over-run by foxes. Are they becoming increasingly brazen? And are they a danger to our pets and children?

Help paint a picture of the British fox by sending your sightings, pictures, videos and questions to the programme via the Channel 4 website. Watch the first episode again on the 4OD Watch the Fox update on 2nd May at 7.55pm and there will be three more shows on 7-8-9th May.

Badger vs Fox - in my garden

I have my own fox family that live at the 'messy' bottom of my garden. They come out into the 'tidier' part every night, and often during the day. Using remote infrared cameras I've been able to film their antics, digging out my compost bin, fighting and chasing each other, climbing the the bird feeder! I was very surprised to discover that my garden is occasionally visited by a transient badger - which the foxes arn't keen on.

This is a clip is from just a few nights ago... (I'll try and post more foxy action soon)

My Fox Family

Here's a few photos of some of my foxes. The first few were taken just an hour ago, as I was writing this post! When I looked out of the window a fox that I call 'Fangs' was relaxing in his usual spot.

'Fangs' relaxing in his favourite spot.


'Fangs' with his lovely winter coat

'Timmy' in his spring coat - a young fox with minimal sign of mange

'Rat Tail Rupert' Our mangiest fox

 'One-eyed Louis'

I'm sat 1 metre away from a young urban fox. I see him often - his mange gets worse. I will try & cure him.
I've seen this fox a few times curled up just outside my house - a distinctive patch possibly mange.